THE ROOT CANAL PROCEDURE
To get to the inside of the dead tooth, the dentist drills an access hole into the end of the tooth (the chewing surface) until the drill sinks into the softer core of the tooth, known as the “pulp chamber”. That pulp chamber is where the main nerve supply to the tooth is and where the blood vessels have been. This soft area extends down into the root (or roots – some teeth such as molars have several roots) where it is called the root canal. All of pulp and root canal areas are cleaned out, with all the debris removed. Thin files are then inserted into the pulp chamber and the root canals in order to straighten and smooth their walls, making them easier to fill. Sterilizing agents are used to kill all bacteria. Finally, the dentist fills the pulp chamber and root canals with gutta percha (which usually contains cadmium or mercury salts (beware), or some other material that has anti-bacterial properties.
ISSUES AND CONCERNS REGARDING ROOT CANALS
• The dentist can miss cleaning out an entire root canal, especially in molars, which have extra root canals; “accessory canals” which branch off of the main root canals too small to be cleaned out. The soft tissue inside then rots.
• Infection in the dentin. Surrounding the pulp chamber and root canals is tooth dentin; the dentin, which makes up most of the tooth structure, is permeated with large numbers of microscopic sized tubules that are used to nourish the tooth when it is alive. In a dead tooth, many bacteria survive in the dentin tubules and they are mostly anaerobic bacteria, which is far more toxic than regular bacteria.
• The periodontal ligament that anchors the tooth to the bony socket is often infected and it remains infected despite what is done in a root canal treatment. It is not inside the tooth; rather the tooth rests on it like a hammock.
• The infection and its toxins can travel from the tooth and its surrounding diseased tissue to infect and inflame remote parts of the body such as heart (endocarditis), the kidneys (nephritis), and the joints (arthritis). A doctor may prescribe antibiotics in a determined attempt to eliminate the infection from the body, but the antibiotics cannot get into the root canaled tooth because there is no blood circulation to carry the antibiotics to it. Neither can the patient’s own immune system kill off the infections in an infected root canaled tooth, because there is not longer a lymph or blood flow there. It's dead.
•Infections and their toxic waste products may move the infected and toxic root canaled tooth into the bony socket around the tooth and its periodontal ligament. The toxins can kill jawbone regions; the result is jawbone cavitations.
•Neurological effects clinically linked to the above infections and their toxins appear to include: instability, depression, memory problems, dementia including Alzheimer's disease, ALS and Parkinson's disease.
•Autoimmune effects appear to include allergies, asthma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, ALS, lupus and scleroderma.
•As found by acupuncture and oriental medicine, a root canaled tooth is most likely to adversely affect organs that are on the same meridian that the tooth lies on.
STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH THE ABOVE CONCERNS
•Instead of doing root canal treatment, a patient may have the tooth safely extracted.
•In attempts to make root canal treatment safer some holistic dentists are using experimental techniques involving lasers and/or oxygen-ozone injections to sterilize the dead tooth and to solidify the dentin tubules. When they finally fill the cleaned out sterilized tooth, they use a supposedly less toxic root canal filling material called Endocal. This material is supposed to greatly expand into the dentin tubules, sealing them and killing off any bacteria that are encountered. The use of the oxygen-ozone treatment to make root canals safe is still experimental and its prospects for long-term success are unkown at present. But some dentists feel the results are promising so far.
Root canal treatments remain a controversial issue in holisitic dentistry. Many holistic dentists refuse to perform them, while many others do. The attempts by some dentists to find a safe way of doing root canals is laudable. Time will tell just how successful their efforts turn out to be.